Archikulture Digest

Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music

Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music

By Lee Blessing

Directed by Christopher Niess

Starring Jesse Hinton, Kelly Kilgore, Patrick Sylvester

UCF Conservatory Theatre, Orlando FL</strong>

Love sure looks like fun when you can’t get it, but when you find it, it can turn on you in a heartbeat. Bar owner and ex-biker Jim Stools (Sylvester) struggles to start his pickup truck so he can flee his girlfriend Eve’s (Kilgore) rebellious teen age son Jay Bob (Jeffery Peacock). Eve made Jim pave the parking lot, kick out his biker buddies and hire a dance band and now he’s not convinced this make his life any better. Women love to fix up old houses and young men, and now instead if a nightly knife fight he’s selling cheap beer to nice people dancing to good country music. That’s Eves idea: give the place a nice name, and that’s what it will become Jim’s slow witted ditch digging friend customer Roy Manual (Hinton) is hot for Eve’s niece Catherine Empanger, and begs Jim to ask her out for him. While author Blessing is pretty blunt with everyone’s last name in this show, you’ll just have to translate that one on line for yourself.

As stories go, this one is a straightforward contrast of the innocence and promise of a first date with the realities of a baggage laden post-divorce relationship. Jim’s incipient but prudent violence words well against Roy’s innocent lust, Eve’s enthusiasm reflects her happiness at escaping a bad marriage, and Catherine (Kayli Keppel) has an innocent joy, even if her childhood dreams have been shattered by an embarrassing mental condition. But Jay Bob is overplayed to the point the audience shows a bit too much glee when he almost dies.

On stage we have one of the more elaborate and impressive sets I’ve seen in a black box – an actual truck is there for the cast to beat on, a revolving set captures the exact paint tone of a clap board house left to weather in the sun and rain of southwest Houston, and a gorgeous mural of a telephone pole against a twilight sky fill-in in an otherwise awkward space to the upper left of the second act. This isn’t a complicated play, but it’s a positive one with the message that there’s someone out there who will always put up with you, and no matter who it is, it won’t be easy for either of you. That’s why I recommend keeping a lock on the fire arms and never sharpen a kitchen knife.

For more information on UCF Conservatory Theatre, visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu


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